1 out of 4 stars
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When I first saw the synopsis for Heartaches – Bad Boy Vibes, I was incredibly excited. It seemed to offer the best of a steamy romance and a commentary on some rather serious social issues. It definitely delivered on both counts…
Anna Walters-Simmons, our female protagonist, suffers one of life’s worst injustices: sexual assault. Following the suspicious death of her step-father, Anna meets and falls in love with Matt Preston. However, Matt isn’t all Anna thought he was. Instead of leading her out of her darkness, he manipulates her right into a gang rape. Suffering not only her assault, but betrayal as well, Anna turns to Rafael Luis Brown (Rafe), our male protagonist. Rafe understands her suffering since he’s been through much of the same during his time as commando in Syria at the hands of his commanding officer. The two end up being each other’s support as they fall in love and try to fight the power their tormentors wield in their world.
I found myself really struggling to read this book. I wasn’t prepared to be faced with some rather explicit rape scenes. A more thorough warning of the book’s more mature content would have been appreciated. I expected the steamy content, but not the nature of it. In my opinion, there’s no need to thrust three rape scenes that amounted to roughly seven pages of detailed sexual assault at the reader with no warning. Even less so to present it as yet another steamy scene. It could have been handled with more grace.
Another thing that bothered me was the apparent lack of the author’s understanding towards more common aspects of post-rape behaviour. For example, Anna finds herself in the presence of her rapist after not paying proper attention to her surroundings. Commonly, a rape victim would display a kind of hyper-awareness of their surroundings (according to rapecrisis.org). Rather, Anna ends up wandering around in a daze in a place where there’s a high chance of her running into one or more of her assaulters. Whether this was an attempt at creating a character that didn’t fit the norm, I don’t know. I also find it hard to believe that a rape victim would so inherently trust someone the way Anna trusted Rafe.
There were a lot of mistakes in the copy of the book I received. Grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes, and vocabulary mistakes could be found on almost every page. Despite the large number of mistakes, however, none of them truly hindered my reading of the book.
On the other hand, I absolutely adore the author’s writing style. It’s heavy and packed full of adjectives. It just needs some further development. The style isn’t very consistent. One moment the author would use a contraction and in the very next sentence not. In one chapter, the author would use crass language and in the next they wouldn’t. It’s little things like these that could potentially irk some more attentive readers. It's also, sadly, not a style that fits very well into the dialogue of the story, given it's context.
The characters are amazing. While I wasn’t necessarily overly fond of them, I couldn’t help but feel for Anna and Rafe’s plight. Irwing did an excellent job of creating a set of characters that evoked some intense emotions. The characters seemed alive. They seemed like real people instead of just fiction on a page.
I give this book 1 out of 4 stars because, despite the few things I liked, the rape scenes ruined the book for me. Right from the start, it coloured the story in a way that made the entire thing hard to swallow. On top of that, there are simply too many mistakes to ignore. I would not recommend this book to a young reader or anyone who’s sensitive to topics such as rape or drug use. This is not a quick and easy read. I didn’t like reading this book and I wouldn’t recommend others read it unless they’re specifically looking for a story dealing with these topics.
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